Nabil Shaikh's senior thesis took him more than 8,000 miles from Princeton to Hyderabad, India, where he interviewed terminally ill cancer patients about their experience with end-of-life care.
For Shaikh, a politics
major from Reading, Pennsylvania, the fieldwork was just one part of a four-year journey through the University that gave him the academic grounding, intellectual support and real-world experience needed to explore ethical, political and practical questions about caring for the terminally ill.
Shaikh came to the University expecting to major in chemistry and take a traditional route to medical school. After his first year at Princeton, he spent a summer working in Budapest, Hungary, through the International Internship Program
, which piqued his interest in health care access for disadvantaged populations. An internship after his sophomore year at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston through the Princeton Internships in Community Service
program drew him to a range of questions surrounding end-of-life care.
"At the individual level, I wonder about the ideal and most well-imagined form of living out the best of your days at the end of your life," Shaikh said. "At the caregiving level, there's the question of how you turn from figuring out the best curative route for a patient to focusing on improving quality of life. And at the policymaking and political level, how can we talk about end-of-life care as just as important an aspect of the public health agenda as issues such as fighting infectious diseases?"